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8 September 2008   Comments Off on A conversation with Wentworth of ‘Prison Break’

Wentworth Miller is no longer TV’s illustrated man. In last week’s Season 4 premiere of ‘Prison Break’, Michael Scofield, Miller’s character, had his full-torso tat painfully lasered off in one sitting. Way back in Season 1, you’ll recall, the elaborate work of art concealed architectural secrets to Fox River State Penitentiary and held the keys to a meticulously plotted escape. Since then, however, the tattoo has served no purpose. “It was a fan favorite the first season,” Miller says. “But then Michael escaped — mission accomplished — and suddenly it was just something that had to be borne rather than be something that could be used as a plot device. That resulted in me in Dallas [where the series was filmed in seasons two and three] in 100-degree heat, wearing long-sleeve shirts because we’re still pretending I actually have the thing on.” Season 4 has morphed into something of a season-long Mission: Impossible caper for Michael and his Prison Break cronies. So before the season got under way, Miller approached the writers, asking to be set free from the tattoo that had to be painted on any time he went shirtless. Now, Miller says, “I am looking forward to rolling my sleeves up.” Prison Break airs at 8 p.m. CT Monday on Fox.

The show’s premise has undergone a radical change this season. Do you see that as a good thing?
“Most other TV shows are in the habit of figuring out their winning formula and then beating it into the ground. We take what we already know works and toss it out the window at the start of every season, which I think is very bold and ambitious. That said, I’ve been more comfortable with some seasons than others. My favorites have been one and three, because I think my character works best behind bars with very real, physical, deadly obstacles to surmount.”

Michael has done a lot of bad things over the course of the show’s run. Do you think he can ever find redemption and go back to his former life?
“I think that Michael is still a good man. But at this point, I think it would take something quite extreme for him to really even the score for all the bad things he has done. There is no returning to his white-collar existence as a structural engineer. I think the only thing that Michael is fit for at this point is as a hired gun.”

Maybe his redemption can be found in ridding the world of despicable old T-Bag. Have you considered that?
“Michael and Lincoln, between them, have intentionally or unintentionally killed so many people. Yet they’re still running around with T-Bag. It’s really a testament to Robert Knepper that his character has survived through four whole seasons. But T-Bag is a maniac, a psychopath and a child killer and a rapist. Eventually, you have to wonder when enough is enough, because it really makes my character look bad that T-Bag is still with us.”

How long do you envision yourself continuing to do this show?
“It’s not CSI. It’s not Law & Order. It can’t run forever. I do feel as though we may be on one of our final laps around the track. It is something that weighs on my mind. Telling a story correctly necessitates knowing when to end it.”

Regarding your distinctive hairstyle: Was the look imposed on you when you were cast or was it your choice? And will you keep it post-Prison Break?
“I actually had this before I was cast in the part and then they made Dominic Purcell shave his head. I’m glad they did, because it goes a long way toward selling these two characters and these two actors as brothers. After the series, we’ll see. I kind of like it this short. It’s pretty low-maintenance. But the good news is, if I ever had any concerns about being typecast as Michael Scofield, because the shaved head is such an iconic part of the character, distancing myself might be easy because all I have to do is let my hair grow.”

Tattoo removal is a painful process. Any chance that, in an upcoming episode, someone will pat Michael on the back and he’ll scream in agony?
“The good news is that characters on Prison Break tend to heal very, very quickly. It’s quite possible to be shot in one scene and sprinting across a cornfield the very next. So the precedent has been established.”

Speaking of remarkable healing abilities, Michael’s true love, Sara, is back, despite being decapitated in Season 2. Rationalize that.
“I think that we address it as plausibly as possible. It helps that the show is kind of fantastic. I feel like we’ve gotten away with worse. It was at some point during the strike that I started hearing rumors that Sara was returning, that the fans were organizing write-ins and petitions. I think that’s emblematic of where we are in terms of television and the media. It’s very much a back-and-forth conversation between the fans and the writers. Their opinions, especially when expressed online or via correspondence, are important and taken into consideration. What can I say? The fans have spoken. Sara returns.”

Any concerns that reattaching her head is a “jump the shark” plot twist?
“We jumped the shark long ago. Now we’re inventing new sharks. We’re taking ‘jump the shark’ to a whole new level. Fasten your seatbelts.”

Source: http://www.star-telegram.com/

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